Topic: Rereātea - Midday News

A plan to address youth crime

By Regan Paranihi

A report on addressing youth crime in New Zealand has been released and Principal Youth Court Judge John Walker says it is a plan for change that needs to involve agencies and communities.

The report, titled It is Never Too Early, Never Too Late, discusses the prevention of youth offending in New Zealand and urges agencies to use the ‘development crime prevention’ model.

Walker says the key issues highlighted in the report for youth offending are linked to problems with the families and the community.

“When the research shows that 80 percent of child and young offenders grow up in homes where family violence is present, breaking this cycle of violence from one generation to another is critical.”

He says the problems could be avoided if they were addressed earlier in the teen’s life and correctly.

“If we really want to be serious about getting to the root causes of youth crime, it shows we need to tackle those issues when they're children, not when they turn up in the youth justice system at 14.”

"To address the underlying issues and the well-entrenched behaviors we see in young people and young adults, we must target every point in the timeline. We need to be pre-emptive, responsive and adopt long-term strategies."

Walker says the report outlines that actions alone cannot make a change, but says change can happen by making it happen alongside others.